Startup and Maintenance rinses
I first said yearly, based on people using the AquaCure about 20 minutes a day, like the ER50 was used.
Then (because people are using the AquaCure for more than 20 minutes a day), I said 200 hours but some AquaCures accumulate more sludge than others so I now say 100 hours.My recommended cleaning procedure is:
Rinse the machine with HOT tap water (not boiling water) a couple of times BEFORE putting in the very first lye solution, to remove any lye crystallization that has occurred during storage and shipping.
Then, about every 100 hours of operation,
(might need to be more often if water impurities make more sludge) Because some machines make more sludge.
One way to REDUCE sludge formation is to keep the liquid level HIGH (between ¾ and full). When the electrolyzer fluid level gets less than ¾, there is less and less active surface area on the plates and the amperage density rises to keep producing the same gas volume. Greater amperage density (for several reasons) makes more sludge. Also the machine is more efficient when nearly full.
First dump the lye solution into a plastic bucket or stainless steel pot (save it, don’t pour it down the drain).
Do NOT use aluminum containers or utensils, Lye eats aluminum.
Second, put about 3/4 liter (quart) of hot (not boiling) water (can be hot tap water) into the AquaCure and slowly lift the AquaCure front and back up and down, alternatively, to ’swish’ the water up and down in the sight tube.
Note that when lifting and lowering the machine, you need to do it SLOWLY, because it takes TIME for the fluids to flow through the small hoses.
To clean the sight tube of lye crystals and/or soap formation, it’s better to ROCK the machine by alternatively LIFTING the front and back (not quickly) off the table so that the hot water can completely surge up into and down the sight tube. Swishing the sight tube clean with hot water. No need to lift the machine itself off the table, just one end, then the other.
Then as the hot water cools (it only stays hot for a minute), dump the rinse water out (down the sink OK),
and repeating as many times as needed until the water comes out clear (no sludge or debris).
AND the floating ball comes free and floats at the same level as the water in the electrolyzer.
AND the sight tube is clear of lye or soap ‘fog’.
Here’s a video to help you
NOTE: If your ball is sticking or sinking, it’s usually because the ball has lye or soap deposits on it, which cause it to sink or stick to the tube wall, a good rinsing will usually free it.
Rinse again and again until the ball floats free.
If the ball will not float free, then you need to mechanically clean the tube, ask for instructions.
NOTE: Vinegar or citric acid are NOT needed for flushing, plain hot tap water is OK.
There are no ‘deposits’ for such cleaning agents to dissolve as lye itself is a great ‘soap’.
NOTE: We no longer recommend ever putting citric acid in the AquaCure, because trace oils in the citric acid cause foaming and oil combined with lye forms soap which clouds the sight tube and can cause internal plugging issues.
Third, let the lye solution (you initially poured out) sit for a few hours (usually overnight) and all the sludge will settle to the bottom.
You can then suck the clarified (it’ll be yellow tinted) lye solution out of the container using a hose on a syringe and/or carefully pour off the clarified lye solution back into the AquaCure.
ONLY about 1.25 liter at most, don’t overfill the machine.
Pouring in less lye solution is OK, in any case we do not want more than 80 grams of lye in the machine.
NOTE: We no longer recommend using disposable coffee filters because many of them introduce impurities into the solution. The exception would be the re-useable stainless steel or gold plated coffee filters.
Personally I no longer use coffee filters at all, because if I just let it sit still long enough (a day or so), the sludge all settles to the bottom and the solution is a clear yellow.
Usually a day will do it. What some people are doing is making two solutions, so one can settle while they use the other… So they do not need to wait a day or two without their machine.
I think this is a great idea.
I prefer to store the solution in Mason jars with plastic lids. These are sold in the canning department of many grocery stores.
We recommend keeping / reusing the old lye because it is ‘conditioned’ and more efficient than ‘new’ lye.
It does not matter if it’s discolored (the yellow tint is perfect, for ‘conditioned’ electrolyte). What matters is to remove the debris and sludge; otherwise the solution will last for years. I’m still using a lye solution I mixed in 1986.
At this point your sight tube should be working.
However, don’t depend on the ‘floating ball’ because sometimes it doesn’t float. Look for the fluid meniscus (liquid level line).
Note: If your gas production has been reducing, it may be because your lye solution has gotten weak.
You will lose a tiny amount of lye over time (for several reasons) so you can add an ounce of lye (about 28 grams or 2 tablespoons)) when the solution is out of the machine, but ONLY if you need it (the gas production reduces or quits if you don’t have enough lye).
The AquaCure will work just fine with 60 grams of lye in it and doesn’t start to significantly reduce gas production until there is less than 30 grams in the machine.
You do not want the lye solution to become too concentrated (max 80 grams in the machine). Too much lye in the machine leads to crystallization which clouds the sight tube and can cause internal plugging of small orifices.
We recommend the model EA-H160 to have a solution of 1 ounce of lye (about 28 grams) and the model AC50 to have maximum 3 ounces of lye (about 84 grams). These are for initial fill ONLY.
Regular fills of water are distilled water ONLY.
NOTE: Sludge normally forms as a side effect of electrolysis and is not your ‘fault’. Although if you do not use PURE (distilled) water, the sludge will form MUCH faster. Also, you get MUCH LESS sludge formation if you keep the AquaCure liquid level topped up, not allowing it to get less than ¾ Full.
NOTE: That you should be using ONLY the water from the Humidifier tank to refill your AquaCure, NOT fresh distilled water.
The water in the Humidifier tank contains any trapped lye and by using that water, you are putting the trapped lye back into the machine.
The AquaCure works BEST (most efficient, makes the least sludge, stays cooler and lasts longer) if kept at ¾ to Full. Keep topping it up from the Humidifier Tank.
If there is excess water in the Humidifier after re-filling the AquaCure, dump the excess down the sink, so that you always re-start with a full fresh charge of distilled water in the Humidifier. Some people were just replacing the amount taken out.
We recommend that you rinse the Humidifier tank (with warm tap water) until the slippery feeling is gone. Do NOT put the Humidifier Tank or the Drinking Water Bubbler in a dishwasher, they will melt.
Always refill the Humidifier with pure distilled water so that it can efficiently trap lye. The Humidifier water needs to be regularly changed (because only fresh pure water can only absorb lye).
You write: “you can add an ounce of lye when the solution is out of the machine, but ONLY if you need it.” By 1 oz do you mean 1 oz volume (6 teaspoons)?
Q: How do I determine whether I need to add 1 oz of lye?
GW/ When the gas production has visibly reduced and you do not have a gas leak. Most times more lye is NOT needed. The initial charge should last for up to 5 years before more is needed.
Generally, the electrolyte (lye) should last for years (theoretically forever) because it’s a catalyst and does not get ‘consumed’ by the electrolysis process.
A catalyst simply ‘helps’ the process happens and is supposed to stay in the machine, just like the wires, chambers, etc.
But a tiny amount rides out on water moisture (which we trap in the Humidifier) so eventually a bit more needs to be added (like an ounce in 5 years).
Q: Would the 1 oz of lye be added exactly as the manual and video explain for a brand new (empty) AquaCure, except that only 1 ounce of lye is added, and it’s put into the existing lye solution rather than into plain distilled water?
Q: How would one know if gas production were reduced?
GW/ It will be visible. Gradually less bubbles to the point there are almost none.
Take care though, because a gas leak will reduce bubbles too and you don’t want to add lye if the machine doesn’t need it because you’ll then have too much, which leads to crystallization.
The Key Difference is if you look down the fill stem while the machine is running (assuming you have enough fluid inside to cover the holes in the white plastic block down inside AND the problem isn’t the machine telling you that you have a condition like high pressure (green light out) or low or high fluid level (red light on))…
If there are lots of bubbles INSIDE the machine, then you have gas production, so you’ll be looking for a gas leak.
If there are no bubbles, then you likely have a low lye concentration in the solution (or, vary rarely, a bad electrical connection).
If using a hydrometer to measure specific gravity of the lye solution, it should read about 1.05 @ 20°C.
Anything close to that is fine (1.03 to 1.07); it does not need to be exact and naturally varies anyway, as the liquid level drops in the machine, the remaining solution becomes more concentrated.